Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Doug Hadnot
Seeley Lake, Mont. 

Seeley Lake is NOT Polluted


October 19, 2017

SEELEY LAKE - Over the past year, since the Seeley Lake Sewer Project was defeated in the election last fall, I have read several articles about how much the lake is polluted and how the proposed sewer project is going to miraculously fix that. The two letters to the Editor last week point out the fallacy of that and what the real truth is…. SEELEY LAKE IS NOT POLLUTED. Furthermore, the claims that water quality in the lake has diminished in the last few years are unsubstantiated by the data and there is no historical baseline data to compare to.

I have been in, on and around Seeley Lake for the past 46 years. On a calm day it is just as clear and clean as it always has been. There are no more weeds or moss than there ever were.

What does change from day to day is the clarity of the water due to wave action. In the last ten or fifteen years the increased use of the lake by jet skis, personal watercraft and huge boats designed to make the biggest wake possible often turn the lake into a churning sea of waves. That constant wave action on the shoreline dirties the water.

The other thing that has changed around the lake is an increase in the size and density of housing. New houses are being built and several old small cabins are now much bigger with garages and outbuildings to store the toys. Paved driveways and manicured lawns are often included.

The result of all of the above is a reduction in the square footage of bare ground available to absorb runoff, pollution and fertilizer. Instead of going into the ground, it runs off into the lake. Increased housing development is the real threat to Seeley Lake.

So the real “need” for a sewer system isn’t because the lake is polluted. The test results don’t back that up. It is because several large land owners want to develop their property at a higher density than is currently allowed.

The current sewer system proposal is flawed in so many ways. It does not include all of the property around the lake. It is designed to pump everything up the hill to a treatment plant by the airport. From there it will ultimately enter the aquifer and run back down hill to the lake. By the way, if (when) the power goes out, residents on the sewer system will be out of service. No power to run the pumps. And what about the recent Rice Ridge Fire, and evacuations? That could have shut the whole system down for a week or more, or burned it up completely.

In summary, the claims that Seeley Lake is polluted are false. The sewer project is being driven by people who stand to gain from higher density development. The project design is horrible and doesn’t include a large number of properties around the lake. Last but not least, we have no idea what the whole thing is going to cost.

It is time to reject this proposal once again, and go back to the drawing board. There is much that local government could to do to assist property owners in maintaining and upgrading their current septic systems.


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